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J Control Release. 2009 Feb 10;133(3):221-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2008.10.004. Epub 2008 Oct 17.

Development of a novel endosomolytic diblock copolymer for siRNA delivery.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98125, USA.


The gene knockdown activity of small interfering RNA (siRNA) has led to their use as target validation tools and as potential therapeutics for a variety of diseases. The delivery of these double-stranded RNA macromolecules has proven to be challenging, however, and in many cases, is a barrier to their deployment. Here we report the development of a new diblock copolymer family that was designed to enhance the systemic and intracellular delivery of siRNA. These diblock copolymers were synthesized using the controlled reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer polymerization (RAFT) method and are composed of a positively-charged block of dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA) to mediate siRNA condensation, and a second endosomal-releasing block composed of DMAEMA and propylacrylic acid (PAA) in roughly equimolar ratios, together with butyl methacylate (BMA). A related series of diblock compositions were characterized, with the cationic block kept constant, and with the ratio of DMAEMA and PAA to BMA varied. These carriers became sharply hemolytic at endosomal pH regimes, with increasing hemolytic activity seen as the percentage of BMA in the second block was systematically increased. The diblock copolymers condensed siRNA into 80-250 nm particles with slightly positive Zeta potentials. SiRNA-mediated knockdown of a model protein, namely glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), in HeLa cells generally followed the hemolytic activity trends, with the most hydrophobic second block (highest BMA content) exhibiting the best knockdown. This pH-responsive carrier designed to mediate endosomal release shows significant promise for the intracellular delivery of siRNA.

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